Friday, February 9, 2007 at 11:40 AMToday has been declared a national holiday in my “mother country”, the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI), to induce all citizens who are qualified to go to the polls and vote.
Even though not as polarized as Democrats and Republicans are in America, our two major political parties – the ruling Progressive National Party (PNP) and opposition People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) – are rather evenly matched. Therefore, the outcome is very much in doubt, and the islands will be rife with suspended animation throughout this day.
But to my fellow TCIslanders I say do not feel obligated to vote for the party who gave you the biggest stash of cash this week. Your vote is not for sale. Let only your conscience determine who gets your vote. And fear not. Because no matter what their political bag men say, your ballot is secret and there’s no way Party leaders can find out how you voted.
So, vote! And let us all respect the results when they are officially announced.
May the best Party win….
Friday, February 9, 2007 at 11:26 AMSince I’m all too aware that the only news and commentary that will interest most people today concerns the tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith, I shall pay my respects as follows:
Her death was probably a consummation devoutly to be wished. After all, even though she lived in a terminal (drug-induced) stupor, I suspect Anna Nicole was acutely aware that people watched her celebrity antics like a train wreck waiting to happen, and regarded her as little more than a laughing stock. Never mind highfalutin magazines like Forbes now eulogizing her with patently-disingenuous headlines like “what drew us to Anna Nicole”.
Moreover, I have no doubt that – especially given the death of her son (pictured with her below) from a drug overdose just five months ago – she was not only aware that her continued drug use had her on a fast track to the grave, but also that the only way to emulate her idol Marilyn Monroe was to die young (at 39) and from a drug overdose too.
May she rest in peace.
That said, it would be patently disingenuous of me not to mention that some prominent lawyers and politicians in The Bahamas – who figured so prominently in the tragic events that were the epilogue of her life – are probably as relieved as Anna Nicole is by her sudden, though not surprising, death.
Therefore, click here to read my CNN commentary on the residency and baby-Daddy drama in The Bahamas that may have caused her fatal crash.
NOTE: It will only be a matter of time before Anna Nicole’s terminally-conflicted husband/lawyer/manager Howard Stern (seen above, as always, shadowing her like a Svengali and praetorian guard) is either shipped out of The Bahamas on an inner tube, or thrown in one of our notorious island prisons for his role in the death of Anna Nicole’s son (allegedly by supplying the cocktail of illegal drugs that killed him).
Thursday, February 8, 2007 at 11:21 AMEven though rank incompetence, kleptocracy and depraved indifference to human life characterized the governments of many post-colonial countries of the Commonwealth, black leaders invariably invoked “the legacy of British colonialism” to rationalize the growing pains they inflicted on their own people.For example, in the immediate aftermath of independence, almost all of them established dominion over their countries by executing nationalization pogroms. And the key feature of these pogroms was the wholesale expulsion of expatriate professionals – who were typically indispensable employees in critical sectors of national life, including education and law enforcement – and awarding their jobs (as patronage) to typically inexperienced, untrained, unskilled natives.But throughout the Commonwealth today, such jingoistic and myopic policies are little more than dark secrets in the annals of post-colonial history. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to get an accurate account of the disastrous legacies they wrought by impeding the sustainable development of these newly independent countries.The glaring exception, however, is Zimbabwe – where President Robert Mugabe initiated the belated nationalization of his country’s agrarian economy six years ago.And true to form, the key feature of this initiative was the expulsion of almost all of the “expatriate” white farmers who made Zimbabwe’s annual harvest the envy of the entire Commonwealth. But just as it was decades ago – when other black leaders tried such similar policies and found them wanton – Mugabe’s pogrom has proved disastrous.But the most salient difference in this case is that – with Zimbabwe about to celebrate its 27th year of independence under his leadership – even the congenitally anti-British Mugabe cannot blame the legacy of colonialism for his country’s demise.
Alas, another more tragic difference is that – unlike his fellow black leaders who implemented aggressive measures to redress the failures of their pogroms – Mugabe seems determined to continue his “sweeping land reforms” come what may. This, even though evidence of the inhumane legacy his jingoistic and myopic reforms have wrought is clear for all to see.
In fact, here is the dire warning his national security minister, Didymus Mutasa, issued on Monday to the few remaining white farmers whose farms had not yet been seized (and they too expelled):
Those farmers who do not comply with the orders to vacate the land will be dealt with severely….It’s the duty of police to see to it that those who don’t abide by the laws are incarcerated.
Meanwhile, here is part of the lamentation I expressed for Zimbabwe in March 2005:
Five years ago, Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of sub-Saharan Africa; today, it is a basket case of starving people. Five years ago, there were 4000 white-owned farms in Zimbabwe; today, there are only 400 – mostly unproductive – farms left.
But then, in November 2005, long-suffering Zimbabweans seemed to have won a reprieve when the BBC reported that Mugabe had finally agreed to ease his iron-fisted rule after realizing that doling out white farms as patronage to black cronies – who had no experience (or interest) in farming – did not guarantee his political legacy…or survival. Never mind the criminally negligent death by starvation of hundreds of thousands of his people that resulted from his seizure of white farms; or the rendering homeless of millions more after he bulldozed their homes pursuant to the “Operation-wipe-out-the-trash” phase of his land reforms.
However, notwithstanding that BBC report (which also cited the prospect of Mugabe soliciting many of the 3,600 white farmers he evicted to return to their farms), I expressed doubts about his conversion – in “Mugabe Finally Admits That Starving His Own People Was a Mistake. No Shit,” November 7, 2005 – as follows:
…my serially vindicated cynicism compels me to suspect that this mea culpa is just another amoral ploy by Mugabe to elicit sympathy and extract financial aid from Western donors. After all, feigning regret for the suffering they’ve inflicted on their own people has always served Africa’s ‘big Dadas’ (despotic rulers) well when courting rich countries (like the United States during the Cold War and China today).
Therefore, I was not at all surprised when the Washington Post reported this week that – despite completely destroying Zimbabwe’s economy and presiding over a government that is indisputably the most venal, inhumane, corrupt, dysfunctional and incompetent in Africa – Mugabe remains committed to keeping his country mired in the death throes of genocidal starvation.
What I find utterly incomprehensible, however, is that – given all the international protests being mounted to stop the genocide being perpetrated by Arabs against blacks in Darfur, Sudan – relatively little protest is being mounted to stop the genocide being perpetrated by Mugabe against his own people. And, in this respect, I am constrained to indict his fellow African heads of state especially for being complicit in his crimes against humanity by their silence….
Yes, save Darfur! But what about Zimbabwe – where for years children have been competing with dogs in scavenging the streets for food….
NOTE: You can help. Please register your outrage by contacting your political representatives and community leaders and asking what, if anything, your government is doing to help save Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans pray for liberation from their liberator Robert Mugabe
Political cleansing in Zimbabwe
Mugabe’s mea culpa
How African leaders codified the right abuse and kill their own people
Wednesday, February 7, 2007 at 12:19 PMWith all due respect to the self-appointed guardians of the (fragile?) egos of black folk, I am smart enough to know not only when I’m being insulted, but also how to respond appropriately. And, until last week, I thought Sen Barack Obama was too. Because, unlike him, I cannot endorse the patently absurd notion that a white colleague who describes me as “articulate” is, in fact, perpetuating some coded language of racial subjugation.
It is undeniable that Sen Barack Obama is an intelligent, telegenic and articulate man who espouses a refreshing and appealingly-bipartisan political agenda. Indeed, this is why – as a presidential candidate – he is almost as popular amongst Republicans as he is amongst (white) Democrats.
But it reflects the curious and internecine nature of black politics that Sen Hillary Clinton is far more popular than Obama is amongst black Americans – for whom, alas, he’s not “black enough”. Moreover, it betrays the even more curious and tenuous nature of race relations in America that white politicians bend over backwards to appease the whimsical standards of political correctness when dealing with blacks: whether it’s struggling to remember to refer to them as “African American” – since, despite their posthumous worshipping of James Brown, they’re no longer “black and proud”, or being wary of describing them as “articulate” – since they’ve now determined that this adjective is a racial epithet.
For your edification, however, here’s what this latest plea for whites to walk on eggshells to avoid being called a racist is all about:
Joe Biden is the gaffe-prone, perennial presidential candidate from Delaware who is one of the longest serving and most respected Democrats in the U.S. Senate. And, notwithstanding his foot in mouth disease, his civil rights credentials are so unassailable that no less a person than Rev Jesse Jackson has praised his bona fides in this respect.
Yet, after Biden attempted to pay Obama a compliment, in-loco-parentis blacks (and their white-liberal enablers) reacted as if he had instead spewed racial slurs at him that would have made the racist George Wallace blush. (Recall that Wallace is infamous for once paying homage to the Confederate States of America by intoning “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”)
But you be the judge. Because here are the purportedly offensive remarks Biden made when a reporter asked him to evaluate his presidential rivals for ’08; remarks which, alas, torpedoed his presidential campaign this time around within hours after he announced his candidacy:
I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy…. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.
Now, I appreciate that some black Americans will suggests that the reason I’m hard-pressed to find anything racially insulting about this quote is because I too am not black enough. And I’m mindful that far too many blacks are impervious to facts that might render irrational or demonstrably false any charge of racial insult they assert.
Accordingly, it does not matter to these woe-is-me defenders of black (em, er, African American) pride that Biden clearly intended no insult (overt or covert). Nor does it matter that when Biden called Obama ostensibly to “explain himself and apologize” – as Jackson and Al Sharpton reportedly counseled him to do – Obama reportedly told him:
…it wasn’t necessary. We have got more important things to worry about. We have got Iraq. We have got health care. We have got energy. This is low on the list.
And that should have been the end of it: a one-day story about another Biden political faux pax; not the national ongoing racial incident it has become.
Meanwhile, what is most farcical about this furor is that if anything Biden said could reasonably be perceived as a racial insult, it would be his implication that none of the previous black presidential candidates were articulate. (And by the way, it’s fun to infer from his use of the word “clean” that Biden was implying that Sharpton and Jackson could have done with a good bath along the campaign trail. But even they know he only meant that Obama does not trade in polarizing racial politics like they do to seem relevant, which, undeniably, is as refreshing for many blacks as Biden implies it is for whites).
Whereas, in fact, even though they may not have been as “mainstream” as Obama clearly is, previous black candidates have invariably been amongst the most articulate contenders for president since Shirley Chisholm’s pioneering run 35 years ago. And I have no doubt that before some overzealous politically-correct police framed this charge against Biden, referring to Chisholm and the others as articulate would have been taken as a self-evident truth; i.e., a warranted and generally accepted compliment.
Therefore, I hope I can disabuse black people of the fool’s game of parsing the race-neutral things white people say to find their coded racist intent. Because, like Obama said (before his political operatives prevailed upon him to issue a statement feigning politically-correct offense at Biden’s remarks): “we have got more important things to worry about.” (But one more John Kerryesque flip flop like this and I’m making Ralph Nader my Hobson’s choice…again.)
Finally, white people please be advised: Calling a black person a Nigger is racially offensive! Describing one of us as articulate is not. (Frankly, I pity the fool who thinks being called “articulate” is an insult.) And, for the record, most of us don’t give a damn what racist thoughts you may have in mind when you pay us a compliment….
Tuesday, February 6, 2007 at 11:55 AM
I want a fuller woman, proud of her femininity, with fuller sides, more life and a fuller bust. Elegant but with more emphasis on the curves….I think enough is enough with thin models. Recently we have not been watching women on the catwalk but a parade of skeletons. [Fashion designer Valentino as quoted in the London Daily Mail on 24 January 2007]Last September, on the eve of New York’s Fall Fashion Week, I published an article entitled Good Riddance: Anorexia models no longer reign in Spain, in which I wrote that:
…as the madams of modeling in New York are flaunting their obsession with anorexic girls at their [bi]annual fashion bacchanal, the matrons of fashion in Spain announced that such sickly-looking mannequins will no longer be strutting their dry bones at Madrid’s….
Unfortunately, Madrid is hardly the fashion trend-setting capital of the world. And I fear that instead of setting a new tone its fashion vanguards will suffer a backlash from fashionistas in places like New York and Paris who seem terminally vested, commercially and psychologically, in anorexic models.Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised a month ago when a few of my NYC friends – who took parochial umbrage at my dissing their madams of modeling – emailed to insist that I eat my words. They felt a few servings of humble pie were in order because the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) had just declared that it would be “issuing guidelines on the issue of skinny models” for all future fashions shows.
According to its declaration, the CFDA wanted to ensure that New York’s biannual Fashion Week no longer features the skeletal mannequins who have dominated fashion runways all around the world in recent years. And it implied that designers would be asked to only hire models who weigh-in at a weight commensurate with their height, which the industry maintains is, aspirationally, 10-15 pounds less than a non-model of equal height should weigh.
But after seeing the models being featured at NYC’s Winter Fashion week, which began on Friday, I’m glad I insisted on seeing the proof in the pudding before eating any humble pie. Because either the CFDA merely trimmed the fat off any ambiguities about its preference for anorexic models or no one in the U.S. fashion industry got (or paid any attention to) their new wholesome guidelines.
These are the girls who will define the directional runways of Fall. [According to Models.com, the industry’s favorite reference site as determined by the New York Times]Apropos this point, in his report on the top 25 models displaying the wares of 221 designers this week, it seems the only thing Times Fashion & Style writer Guy Trebay found alarming was the fact that only one of them is American. Although this merely reflects the reality that – unlike the trend-setting breed of heroin-chic Latinas and East Europeans – most American girls cannot do enough drugs, smoke enough cigarettes and purge their bodies of every morsel of food to be suitable for Haute couture.
Indeed, by today’s standards, former supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Tyra Banks – even at their most starved and bulimic (runway) weight – would be relegated to the Lane Bryant prêt-à-porter show. Because that’s where plus-size models strut their stuff for women who, from the haughty perspective of most NYC fashionistas, lack the ambition and discipline it takes to be thin, and therefore beautiful.
Alas, fulfilling my fear that no major capital would follow Madrid’s wholesome fashion, the supermodels at this week’s shows confirm that dying to be thin remains in. Therefore, Mamas – don’t let your girls grow up to be fashion models….
NOTE: A friend sent me a clip of the aforementioned Tyra Banks venting last week on her eponymous talk show – ostensibly in defense of “the way most American women look” – after a paparazzo shot, and had published, some “unflattering” pictures of her looking the way most American women look.
Indeed, the irony seemed completely lost on her (and her enabling audience) that Tyra was throwing a hissy fit because she was caught looking like her beautiful self – only with the 10-15 pounds she gained naturally after giving up modeling and its industry-standard starvation diet. But where she may have fooled some people by resorting to her old ways to lose a quick 10 pounds before doing that show and then fulminating indignantly about the pictures being doctored, it’s only a matter of time before she follows Oprah’s fashion by embracing her authentic “fuller” self.
Free your mind and the pounds will follow…?
Monday, February 5, 2007 at 12:06 PMIt’s been a long time coming but Coach Tony Dungy and quarterback Peyton Manning finally overcame haunting obstacles (including the recent suicide of Dungy’s son and the persistent rap on Manning as a big-game choker) to win “the big one” for the Indianapolis Colts; and, complete with Manning winning vindication by also being named Super Bowl XLI MVP. Congratulations!
Of course, after the Colts and Chicago Bears won their respective League Championship game two weeks ago, here’s what I wrote about their match-up for the Super Bowl:
So, on to what will now be an even more historic Super Bowl Sunday in Miami!
And, may the best man, um, er, team win. (Although, given my declared racial interest in these two teams [i.e., each featuring a black head coach], I really can’t lose….) But, because the Bears have already been declared the underdog, and because I know their coach had to have suffered merciless and relentless ribbing throughout his career – having a name like “Lovie” – my pick for the Super Bowl is Chicago!
Alas, in what had to have been one of the most boring Super Bowl games in history, the Colts won: 29 to 17!
But am I just being a sore loser or is it the case that – in addition to the game being a soggy, fumbling mess – neither the commercials nor Prince lived up to the hype? And, how about the corporate (one-game-a-year) suckers who paid thousands of dollars to witness this spectacle in exhilarating warmth under starry skies only to have Mother Nature piss cold rain all over them?
Historic NFL Championship Sunday
Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 12:32 PMThe joy of reading syndicated columns by Molly Ivins was surpassed only by the uproarious delight of hearing her share her populist views – distinguished by her inimitable (self-deprecating) Southern drawl and searing wit – in person. And she was never more entertaining than when she was rubbing America’s most fortunate son – Texas “shrub” George dubya – the wrong way.
Ivins died on Thursday after a long battle against breast cancer. She was 62.
Saturday, February 3, 2007 at 12:26 PM
In May 2005, I diagnosed that a groundhog had taken over President George W. Bush’s mind. And, given that we’ve awakened everyday for the past two years to the same headlines coming out of Iraq, it appears my diagnosis was correct!
Groundhog days in Iraq…and in President Bush’s head!
Friday, February 2, 2007 at 11:41 AM
I have written many articles on the (Machiavellian) political machinations of Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. But, despite it being widely reported – and he did little to deny – that he was an insufferable philanderer, I never commented on his personal life. Because just as I did not think Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities were terribly relevant to his job as president of the United States, I did not think Berlusconi’s, even though they made Clinton’s seem positively school-boyish, had any bearing on his leadership.
Nevertheless, I cannot exaggerate the delight I felt when I read this week that Berlusconi’s long-suffering wife, Veronica (50), finally found the courage to stand-up to him. And that she did so in such spectacular fashion only enhanced my delight: i.e., by publishing – on the front page of Italy’s leading anti-Berlusconi newspaper – a scathing account of his shortcomings and misdeeds as a husband.
The tipping point in his serial abuse of her personal dignity – which ignited Mrs Berlusconi’s fury like that of a woman-scorned – appears to have been his recent “flirtatious” invitation to Italian TV presenter Aida Yespica (left) to get married and honeymoon on a deserted island. And, although a stiffer penance was warranted, she ended her public indictment of her disrespectful husband by demanding a public apology.
But the good news is that, despite his chauvinism, bravado and foolish pride, Berlusconi complied as follows:
Dear Veronica, here is my apology.
I was recalcitrant in private because I am playful and also proud. When challenged in public the temptation to give in is strong. I could not resist. We have been together a life-time. Three beautiful children who you have prepared for life with care and rigorous love, from the splendid person you are and that you have always been for me, since the day we met and fell in love.
Together we have done so many wonderful things, more than we can remember in such a turbulent period. Your dignity is not involved, I treasure it like a priceless gift in my heart even when from out of my mouth comes thoughtless comments. But believe me I never made any proposals of marriage to anyone. Therefore forgive me, I beg you, and accept this public apology that I yield to your anger as an act of love. One of many.
A big kiss. Silvio.
Bravo Silvio! Never mind that even after he published this apology – in an equally popular newspaper – Mrs Berlusconi decided to compound his humiliation by retreating to a Convent to ponder it. Lysistrata would be proud, and so should all women!
Now, if only Hillary had the balls to stand up to Bill by writing a similar account about his serial abuse of her trust and love, and then have it read as “Breaking News” on the (congenitally) anti-Clinton FOX News. Although I suspect she’ll go to her grave defending him – “like some Tammy-Wynette-standing-by-her-man…staying-at-home-and-baking-cookies” desperate housewife….
Meanwhile, my admonition to all husbands who read this column is to commit Berlusconi’s groveling apology to memory and regard it as an addendum to your marital vows…just in case. (Should you need to issue it, however, please do so without the arrogant smirk that seems permanently etched in Berlusconi’s face.)
Arrivederci Silvio Berlusconi…until next time?
NOTE: After a rather heated discussion with colleagues about a CNN commentary by a noted scholar of Black Studies, in which she argued, amongst other things, that whites have no right to speak about the suffering of blacks and that men, even if raped, have no right to speak about the suffering of female rape victims, I felt compelled to submit a rebuttal commentary to CNN. I invite you to click here to read it.
Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 11:17 AMLike my favorite curmudgeon Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes, I also think reading fiction is a waste of time. Because the dramas, comedies and tragedies of real life that are chronicled in everything from newspapers to periodical and non-fiction books provide clear and convincing evidence that truth is not only stranger, but also more entertaining than fiction.
More than 20 years ago, however, a dear friend induced me to read a novel by Sidney Sheldon entitled If Tomorrow Comes – after I teased her by suggesting that the only fiction I would read is a book that helps me understand women better “like Barbara Taylor Bradford’s A Woman of Substance” (a book I actually read for a college “gut course”).
Nonetheless, I don’t mind admitting that in Sheldon’s novel I derived much of the guilty pleasures that many of my contemporaries got from watching Aaron-Spelling dramas like Dynasty and Melrose Place. (Although, truth be told, I actually enjoyed the few episodes I caught of Sheldon’s TV hit Hart to Hart starring Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers.) And my pleasure in reading his novels were indeed enhanced by the fact that Sheldon’s protagonists were invariably women of substance dealing with the real challenges of women’s lives, not least of which were chauvinistic men.
Sheldon was an acclaimed playwright and screenwriter before he began writing novels at the advanced age of 51. But he became so prolific and successful as novelist that the Guinness Book of World Records cited him for having over 300m copies of his books in print and published in the greatest number of foreign languages. Nonetheless, Sheldon was probably most proud of the fact the he is the only writer in history to have been awarded an Oscar for a screenplay, a Tony for a Broadway play and an Edgar Allen Poe for his mystery writing.
Sheldon clearly ranked amongst the 20th Century’s most fascinating and accomplished renaissance men. And, given the lavish and exciting life he lived, it would not surprise to learn that Aaron Spelling based his male lead in Dynasty, Blake Carrington, on the dashing and debonair Sheldon’s real life. After all, like I said, truth is not only stranger, but also more entertaining than fiction.
Sidney Sheldon died on Tuesday of complications from pneumonia at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, near his home in Palm Springs, California. He is survived by his wife Alexandra, daughter Mary and brother, Richard. Sheldon was 89.